With their winning streak up to five games, the Indianapolis Colts will try to stay hot when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13. The fun gets started at 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 2, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The game will be televised on CBS for fans in local markets.
Oddsmakers are listing the Colts as 3.5-point favorites on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 48 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 13 NFL betting odds.
With five straight wins, the Colts are officially in refuse-to-lose mode. In a little over a month, Indianapolis has gone from a 1-5 disaster to a 6-5 team that’s tied with Baltimore for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Of course, while that five-game winning streak has given the Colts a chance, they still have a lot of work left to do. At the moment, there are six teams within a game of each other fighting for one playoff spot, so the Colts can’t afford to take their foot off the gas.
For what it’s worth, none of the five teams the Colts have beaten over the past month have a winning record. Fortunately, that’s a trend that could continue. Indy only has two games against winning teams over the final five weeks of the season. That will put Indy in a good position to stay hot down the stretch.
On the other hand, the Jaguars are in the middle of a losing streak that is now at seven games. There were finally some casualties of that losing streak this past week. First, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was given his walking papers. Next, quarterback Blake Bortles was removed from the starting lineup. Cody Kessler will get the start against the Colts.
At 3-8, making the playoffs seems almost impossible for the Jaguars. However, Jacksonville’s December schedule includes five games against teams that are still in the playoff hunt, including showdowns against all of their AFC South rivals. If nothing else, the Jaguars should be motivated by the chance to play the role of spoiler late in the season.
These teams met just three weeks ago in Indianapolis. The Colts narrowly won that game 29-26. Indy led by as many as 16 points but was shutout in the 2nd half and barely hung on at the end, which should make the Jaguars eager to get a second chance against the Colts.
To be honest, this line makes me a little uneasy, even with these two teams going in completely opposite directions. Jacksonville’s last four losses have all come by six points or less, so they’re at least losing close games. That being said, the Jaguars are in rough shape and haven’t won a game since September. I’ll eat the points and look for the Colts to cover.
Obviously, we have to mention Jacksonville’s quarterback switch. As bad as Bortles has been this season, does Kessler make them any better? He was decent coming off the bench against Houston earlier this year but only produced one touchdown for the Jags. Also, Kessler has four career interceptions and five fumbles in less than 250 career pass attempts. That’s not exactly a guy who’s going to make a big difference. If Kessler is really a better option than Bortles, Doug Marrone probably would have made the switch a few weeks ago.
Jacksonville’s other problem is that Leonard Fournette is suspended for this week’s game after getting in a fight last week against the Bills. Fournette has rushed for 95 yards in each of the past two games and has four touchdowns over his last three games. He’s easily Jacksonville’s best offensive player, so they’re in a little bit of trouble without him. With Kessler at quarterback and an underperforming offensive line, the Indianapolis defense is going to be focused on the running game. Without Fournette, it’ll be tough for the Jags to get it going on the ground.
On the other side of the ball, teams still have to respect the Jacksonville defense. However, the Jags struggled to do much against Andrew Luck a few weeks ago. In that meeting, Luck completed 21 of his 29 passes for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns. Right now, Luck is getting all the support he needs, particularly from a much-improved offensive line. During Indy’s current winning streak, Luck has only been sacked once. When he has time in the pocket, he can pick apart just about any defense.
The only caveat for the Colts is the status of running back Marlon Mack, who’s currently in the league’s concussion protocol. Mack has been an underrated part of the team’s success during their winning streak. If the Jags can slow down the Indy running game, they may have a chance to keep this game close.
Ultimately, Kessler starting at quarterback and Fournette being unavailable are enough to make me lean toward the Colts, despite a couple of questions on their side of things. The Jags were a little fortunate to come back in the 2nd half and make their first meeting with the Colts a close game. I don’t think that’ll be the case this time around. I like Indianapolis to win comfortably on the road and cover the spread with ease.